DOJ-led AO35 to make assessment on killings of peace consultants in Visayas

DOJ-led AO35 to make assessment on killings of peace consultants in Visayas
In this September 25, 2018 photo, members of local rights group Karapatan condemn the killing of human rights defender Mariam Uy Acob.
Facebook / Karapatan, released

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice-led task force on politically motivated extrajudicial killings will look into whether the killings of two peace consultants in separate incidents in Visayas will be covered by their mandate.

“The DOJ will conduct a preliminary assessment of the subject incidents,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.

“The [Administrative Order 35] mechanism has been duly advised to start rolling,” he added.

Rustico Tan, a former priest and peace negotiator for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, was killed by unidentified men in his home in Camotes Island on the evening of May 28.

Peace consultant Reynaldo Bocala and his companion Welly Arguelles Epago meanwhile were killed in a supposed shootout with police also on Friday in Iloilo. He is the husband of fellow peace consultant Maria Concepcion "Concha" Araneta who was designated by the Anti-Terrorism Council as a terrorist.

AO 35 created the Inter-agency Committee on Extra-legal Killings, Enforced Disappearance, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons, which is chaired by the justice secretary.

The administrative order was issued in 2012 to address allegations that state and non-state actors have been "silencing, through violence and intimidation, legitimate dissent and opposition raised by members of the civil society, cause-oriented groups, political movements, people’s and non-government organizations, and by ordinary citizens."

The AO35 is also conducting a probe into the killings of peasant leader Randall Echanis and Karapatan paralegal Zara Alvarez in 2020. It is also looking into the fatal shooting of nine activists in bloody Calabarzon raids and of the brutal killing of labor leader Dandy Miguel in March.

Guevarra had earlier admitted that the AO 35 mechanism faces difficulty “because there is no evidence or no witnesses come forward to tell authorities of what they know.”

Rights group Karapatan however asserted that the DOJ bears the burden of establishing the trust of victims of political killings as it moves forward in its probes. — Kristine Joy Patag

vuukle comment




  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with